Rishi Sunak At His Desk
The chancellor announced a £30bn coronavirus contingency plan in the Budget last week

Region’s shops and hotels to receive Gov’t boost

Chloé Vaughan

Retail, leisure and hospitality firms in the North West stand to benefit from billions of pounds of Whitehall support to help them stay afloat amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday promised to cancel business rates this year all companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, while such companies will also be able to apply for £25,000 grants from the government.

Sunak said: “Every single shop, pub, theatre and music venue will pay no business rates for 12 months.”

SMEs across all sectors will have the opportunity to apply for grants worth £10,000, the chancellor announced, and £330bn of state-backed loans will be made available to businesses as part of the rescue package for businesses to stem the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The business rates policy was one of the main asks of UK property consultancy Colliers International, which said it “welcomed the emergency measures”.

John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said: “At last some news we have been waiting for. The Government seems to be putting its hands in its pockets and finally delivering what we and our retail and hospitality clients have been calling for – support for all in the sector, not just the smaller players.”

However, Webber said he still has concerns about the levels of support for non-retail and leisure sectors – such as offices and manufacturing – and the potential impact on property if such businesses suffered and left units vacant.

“Many companies lie outside the retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors, such as those in financial, professional services, media, estate agents, and nurseries. One can only hope the Chancellor has these in sight for the next round of supportive measures.”

He added: “The Chancellor also failed to cover what happens with empty properties. If tenants go bust, landlords not only loose rents, but have to pick up empty rates bills, whilst the property is unoccupied after a few months “rates” holiday.”

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